Cape Town - South Africa’s four-wicket victory over Pakistan at Newlands was one of the team’s more gratifying wins of late, skipper Graeme Smith said on Sunday.
“It was a really good Test and we were under quite a bit of pressure at times,” Smith said after the team’s sixth consecutive win and 14th match unbeaten.
“At the start of day three, we needed two days of big performances and to do that was incredible. It was one of the more rewarding victories we’ve had recently.”
Full scorecardSmith said Robin Peterson’s 84, when the innings was shaky at 164/6, and the contributions made by the lower order were inspirational and key to turning the game around.
VIDEO: SA v Pakistan second Test day 4, highlights
Used to playing on a pitch which offers pace and bounce, the Proteas were made to work hard for their wickets and Smith said they had to dig deep for the win.
“The conditions were challenging and not ideal for us but we’ve got to play on what we’re given,” Smith said.
“To come through on these conditions is big for us and to win in spinning conditions, when the ball is not really carrying, is exciting.” Pakistan’s spinner, Saeed Ajmal took four for 51 in South Africa’s second innings run chase and returned match figures of 10 for 147.
“Ajmal bowls at a really quick pace and has a delayed action which makes it difficult for the batsman to use his feet,” Smith said.
“He has such great skill out of the hand and the toughest part when you’re facing him is to try and pick which way the ball is going.
“He’s not the number one spin bowler in the world for nothing and his consistency is something not often spoken about - he lands a lot of balls in the right areas.”
Apart from Peterson’s innings, which was crucial for them to get as close as possible to Pakistan’s first innings total, Smith felt the other turning point in the match was controlling Pakistan’s run rate in their second innings.
“We talked about an old ball spell winning us the Test match and it did. The fact that we could control their run rate in the second innings - keeping it at 2.1 or 2.2 - really benefited us.
“They weren’t able to get away from us so this morning we were able to start afresh and create that pressure.”
Peterson humbly said the team victory was far more important than his personal accolade of being named man-of-the-match.
“It feels good but it was more important for us to win a Test match under pressure, and it was a good team effort. There were some magnificent performances by a lot of the guys,” Peterson said.
Of his own performance, he said there was still room for improvement and he was still a work in progress.
“I’m gradually getting there but there are still a few things I’m not entirely happy with,” he said.
“I was happy to contribute with a few important wickets. It’s not always the ‘fifer’ that sets up the game - sometimes it’s just those one or two key wickets the spinner gets which can open up the game for the team.”
Being part of the set-up for over a decade, Peterson said he felt the team had really matured and the blend of older heads and youngsters who were able to step up to the plate, was the secret to their success.
The Proteas now have an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series with the final match starting in Centurion on Friday.